Mom always shared science facts as we walked through the woods around our house, so I had a head start in science simply because we went outside. In Fall, she talked about changing leaf colors, explaining that leaves stop making chlorophyll, their green pigment, as the air gets colder. Then you could see the other colors in them, the oranges, yellows and purples.
Children may not understand the first time you share something, but repeat it often and add more information, and they will eventually have a wealth of knowledge and understanding.
Fall is the perfect time of year to give children hands-on experience with leaves. Take them on a nature walk and have them find leaves in as many colors as they can. Look closely at the leaves, and you may see signs of moths, butterflies or other creatures.
Green Spring Gardens is an excellent spot for this kind of walk. The park is an outdoor classroom of plants and wildlife for children and their families. Introduce the youngsters to color combinations, and let them explore mixing colors together. But go gently on your way. Remember that those fallen leaves are home to insects that lay eggs among those dazzling colors, and those decaying leaves will provide safety for them through the winter.
After walking the park grounds and exploring the children’s gardens at the site, visit the Green Spring library. The park has a fabulous, non-circulating library that features horticulture books. The children’s section includes welcoming rocking chairs, so plan a little time to browse the collection. Your day can be a perfect mix of exercise, bonding, education and relaxation.
More information about nature books for children is on the Green Spring Master Gardeners’ web page.
Author Gioia Caiola Forman is a Green Spring Master Gardener.